Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Movie #298: The Island at the Top of the World

The Island at the Top of the World is a Disney film from the year I was born (1974, if you're interested). It's based on a novel by Ian Cameron (not Jules Verne, though it sure feels like it) and stars David Hartman, Donald Sinden, Mako, Jacques Marin, David Gwillim, and Agenta Eckemyr.

We open with Dr. Ivarsson (Hartman) being recruited by Sir Anthony Ross (Sinden) to join an expedition to find his missing son, Donald (Gwillim). Turns out Donald jumped on the chance to go on an expedition to find the titular island, but then he disappeared. Ivarsson, an archaeologist, is too intrigued to say no, so they set off in a dirigible piloted by Captain Brieux (Marin), and they're off!

They arrive in the Arctic Circle, and find a fort with a bunch of "Eskimos," including Donald's friend Oomilak (Mako), who says he was taken by evil spirits. They set off again in the airship (after tricking poor Oomilak aboard), and Oomilak, Ross, and Ivarsson get dumped into a strange paradise inhabited by Vikings.

Yeah, it's pretty weird.

So they find Donald and his lady-love, a local woman named Freya (Eckemyr), and they go about escaping, and then they drift back, and then they escape again but Ivarsson stays behind because he gets to observe history, because the Vikings haven't really progressed at all in 1200 years.

There are some good points to the movie. I like how Ross is ruthless in his quest to rescue his adult son, and the history between them is never really dwelt on, but obviously important enough to both of them that they need to hash it out. I like that Ross immediately approves of his son's girlfriend and is willing to stay in Viking-land to take his place so they can leave. In general the characters are capable and, if not entirely perfect, then relatable. There are no female characters worth talking about; Freya gets some lines and scenes, but she's mostly just Girlfriend, so that's a thing. Likewise, Oomilak is largely played for laughs, but Mako does a good job of having his fear and hurt upon being lured onto the airship come through.

The movie ends once, and then goes on for another 25 minutes, so that's kind of blah. But in general, it's a light and mostly harmless, and rather dated, kids' adventure movie. And my kids seemed to enjoy it, so that's cool.

My Grade: B
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Attack the Block